We live under a blanket of stars that seemingly have nothing to do with our everyday lives. Although we don’t rely on the heavens as much as our ancestors did, there’s no denying the power of astronomy in our modern society. But what good is it to the common citizen? How can astronomy enhance our everyday lives, and why should we take the time to care or learn about our universe? Those are very good questions, and the answers are simple:
What? Why? After all, we have GPS for that. But what if you didn’t? Knowing the layout of the night sky can help you immensely if you ever need to know where you’re going or how to get there. The aptly named North Star acts as the guidepost, since it lies directly over the North Pole. How do you find the North Star, though? Simply use the constellation nearly everyone is familiar with: The Big Dipper. The stars at the “saucepan” end of the constellation (Dubhe and Merak) always point to the North Star.
2. Tell Time
Ever heard of a sundial? Long before we had watches and smartphones to make us panic and realize that we just spent an hour scrolling through social media, we made sundials. These simple yet revolutionary devices use the position of the sun to cast a shadow indicating the time. Amazing, isn’t it?
3. Contemplate Your Existence
When life gets a little too overwhelming, what do you do? Do you use common escapes like TV and stimulants? Maybe instead you could take a deep breath and head outside. Look around at everything growing and all the life surrounding you and realize that as far as we know, this is the only planet where any of this amazing stuff we take for granted exists. Then, when it gets dark, look up at all of those points of light. Every single one is a brilliant star that sent its light to you countless years ago. Human problems seem so small when you consider them on a universal scale. Perhaps the best use of astronomy in daily life is to cultivate a greater appreciation for the fact that you have a daily life to live.